ATP Paris, Semi-Final Preview: Berdych v Raonic, Djokovic v Nishikori

The poll for the Federer-Raonic quarter-final was one of the most one-sided polls of the whole year with a whopping 84% backing Roger… however it was Raonic who produced the best win of his career so far to stun Federer in straight sets, 7-6(5) 7-5.  After Ferrer lost to Nishikori, the final eight was officially locked for the World Tour Finals… Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Tomas Berdych, Andy Murray, Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic have all made it.

*This post has been edited to account for some mistakes… i’m sorry, what can I say, it’s been a long year 😛

1. Tomas Berdych v Milos Raonic (Paris, SF)


As both Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic confirmed their places in the final eight at the World Tour Finals next week, attention is now firmly rooted to Paris itself with Raonic gunning for a first ever final in Bercy.  As mentioned above, Raonic snapped a six match losing streak to defeat Federer for the first time in his career.  I was really stunned by this result, particularly as Raonic had been a passenger in their last two matches and shown little belief that he had what it takes to beat Fed.  Furthemore, Raonic has never brought his A-game to the big matches against the best players on tour.  This was Raonic’s most monumental match of the year with so much up for grabs… and he delivered.

As Milos finally earnt a win against Roger, the same couldn’t be said for Kevin against Tomas.  Kevin Anderson had a 0-11 H2H record heading into his quarter-final against Berdych.  He ran the Czech player really, really close, but just pulled up short in the third set.  Berdych won, 6-7(4) 6-4 6-4 in two hours and 34 minutes.  In their last encounter, Berdych defeated Raonic in Paris, prevailing in an epic first set tiebreaker and winning in straight sets, 7-6(13) 6-4.  There’s not much to call between the pair; Berdych had a lengthy match on Friday and Raonic is likely to be the fresher of the pair.  Both have made London so there could be a comedown.  50/50 for me, but going for Milos…

Prediction: Raonic d. Berdych in 3 sets

2. Novak Djokovic v Kei Nishikori (Paris, SF)


Novak Djokovic maintained his 100% record over Andy Murray in 2014 with a 7-5 6-2 quarter-final victory in Paris.  The first set was of reasonable quality, but this match-up continues to be a complete snoozefest for me.  After losing the first set, the match was pretty much over.  Murray had done what was required of him to qualify for London and having played for six consecutive weeks, he had nothing left in the legs to challenge Djokovic.  Some of the comments about Murray’s performance on Twitter were laughable… give the dude a break, he must be exhausted!

In the final match of the day, Kei Nishikori outlasted David Ferrer in another epic between the pair, 3-6 7-6(5) 6-4 lasting two hours and 43 minutes.  Ferrer-Nishikori matches are pretty brutal, but I actually enjoy them, particularly side-to-side with a Djokovic-Murray match.  Nishikori staged one of the most impressive turnarounds i’ve witnessed all year.  From 5-2 down in the second set tiebreak, Nishikori won five straight points with some forceful and aggressive play.  For much of the match, Nishikori made too many unforced errors, but he pulled it home in the third set.  Both players looked knackered and I can’t help but feel sorry for Ferrer, who as usual, put everything into this match and over the last six weeks to qualify for the World Tour Finals.  This time round, he just came up short.

This will the frst time that Djokovic and Nishikori have played each other since the US Open semi-finals where Nishikori won in four sets to reach his first Grand Slam final.  After Kei finished his match in the early hours of Saturday morning, Djokovic will have a huge advantage.  However i’ve written Nishikori off so many times this year where it looks like fatigue will get the better of him.  I could see Kei getting a set, but Novak for the win.

Prediction: Djokovic d. Nishikori in 3 sets

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